We Did It! Now’s Our Chance!
Everybody out to oppose war at the next meeting!
At the March 6, 2017, meeting of the Charlottesville City Council, (video here) three members of the council proposed to put on the agenda for a future meeting a vote on a resolution opposing the increased military spending proposed by President Donald Trump. If even just those three (Kristin Szakos, Wes Bellamy, and Bob Fenwick) vote in support of the resolution it will pass. The views of the other two City Council Members (Mike Signer and Kathy Galvin) are unknown.
We are currently assuming, and will confirm as soon as possible, that the vote on the resolution will come at the March 20th, 7 p.m., meeting. We need to be there in large numbers!
We also need to sign up in large numbers ahead of time for 3-minute speaking slots. Please do that here: http://bit.ly/cvillespeech (Of fifteen slots, ten go to online sign-ups, five to early arrivals in person.)
Thus far, these organizations have endorsed the resolution: Charlottesville Veterans For Peace, Charlottesville Amnesty International, World Beyond War, Just World Books, Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice, the Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club, Candidate for Commonwealth’s Attorney Jeff Fogel, Charlottesville Democratic Socialists of America, Indivisible Charlottesville, heARTful Action, Together Cville,
We need to reach out to other organizations and ask them to sign on. We’ll add them here: http://bit.ly/cvilleresolution
In making the case for this resolution, the National Priorities Project can be a useful resource. For example:
“For Department of Defense, taxpayers in Charlottesville, Virginia are paying $112.62 million, not including the cost of war. Here’s what those tax dollars could have paid for instead:
1,270 Elementary School Teachers for 1 Year, or
1,520 Clean Energy Jobs Created for 1 Year, or
2,027 Infrastructure Jobs Created for 1 Year, or
1,126 Jobs with Supports Created in High Poverty Communities for 1 Year, or
12,876 Head Start Slots for Children for 1 Year, or
11,436 Military Veterans Receiving VA Medical Care for 1 Year, or
2,773 Scholarships for University Students for 4 Years, or
4,841 Students Receiving Pell Grants of $5,815 for 4 Years, or
41,617 Children Receiving Low-Income Healthcare for 1 Year, or
99,743 Households with Wind Power for 1 Year, or
23,977 Adults Receiving Low-Income Healthcare for 1 Year, or
61,610 Households with Solar Electricity for 1 Year.”
And here’s a chart of the percentage of federal discretionary spending going to militarism each year. It hasn’t topped 60% since the Cold War ended. Trump is proposing to put it back up there.
Cities that have passed resolutions in favor of reducing military spending in recent years are numerous and include Charlottesville as well as the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Already this year, New Haven has passed one
Americans are supposed to be directly represented in Congress. Their local and state governments are also supposed to represent them to Congress. A representative in Congress represents over 650,000 people — an impossible task.Most city council members in the United States take an oath of office promising to support the U.S. Constitution. Representing their constituents to higher levels of government is part of how they do that.
Cities and towns routinely and properly send petitions to Congress for all kinds of requests. This is allowed under Clause 3, Rule XII, Section 819, of the Rules of the House of Representatives. This clause is routinely used to accept petitions from cities, and memorials from states, all across America. The same is established in the Jefferson Manual, the rule book for the House originally written by Thomas Jefferson for the Senate.
In 1798, the Virginia State Legislature passed a resolution using the words of Thomas Jefferson condemning federal policies penalizing France.
In 1967 a court in California ruled (Farley v. Healey , 67 Cal.2d 325) in favor of citizens’ right to place a referendum on the ballot opposing the Vietnam War, ruling: “As representatives of local communities, board of supervisors and city councils have traditionally made declarations of policy on matters of concern to the community whether or not they had power to effectuate such declarations by binding legislation. Indeed, one of the purposes of local government is to represent its citizens before the Congress, the Legislature, and administrative agencies in matters over which the local government has no power. Even in matters of foreign policy it is not uncommon for local legislative bodies to make their positions known.”
Abolitionists passed local resolutions against U.S. policies on slavery. The anti-apartheid movement did the same, as did the nuclear freeze movement, the movement against the PATRIOT Act, the movement in favor of the Kyoto Protocol (which includes at least 740 cities), etc. Our democratic republic has a rich tradition of municipal action on national and international issues.
Karen Dolan of Cities for Peace writes: “A prime example of how direct citizen participation through municipal governments has affected both U.S. and world policy is the example of the local divestment campaigns opposing both Apartheid in South Africa and, effectively, the Reagan foreign policy of “constructive engagement” with South Africa. As internal and global pressure was destabilizing the Apartheid government of South Africa, the municipal divestment campaigns in the United States ramped up pressure and helped to push to victory the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986. This extraordinary accomplishment was achieved despite a Reagan veto and while the Senate was in Republican hands. The pressure felt by national lawmakers from the 14 U.S. states and close to 100 U.S. cities that had divested from South Africa made the critical difference. Within three weeks of the veto override, IBM and General Motors also announced they were withdrawing from South Africa.”
Here is the proposed resolution:
Fund Human and Environmental Needs, Not Militarism
Whereas Mayor Mike Signer has declared Charlottesville a capital of resistance to the administration of President Donald Trump.[i]
Whereas President Trump has proposed to move $54 billion from human and environmental spending at home and abroad to military spending[ii], bringing military spending to well over 60% of federal discretionary spending[iii],
Whereas part of helping alleviate the refugee crisis should be ending, not escalating, wars that create refugees[iv],
Whereas President Trump himself admits that the enormous military spending of the past 16 years has been disastrous and made us less safe, not safer[v],
Whereas fractions of the proposed military budget could provide free, top-quality education from pre-school through college[vi], end hunger and starvation on earth[vii], convert the U.S. to clean energy[viii], provide clean drinking water everywhere it’s needed on the planet[ix], build fast trains between all major U.S. cities[x], and double non-military U.S. foreign aid rather than cutting it[xi],
Whereas even 121 retired U.S. generals have written a letter opposing cutting foreign aid[xii],
Whereas a December 2014 Gallup poll of 65 nations found that the United States was far and away the country considered the largest threat to peace in the world[xiii],
Whereas a United States responsible for providing clean drinking water, schools, medicine, and solar panels to others would be more secure and face far less hostility around the world,
Whereas our environmental and human needs are desperate and urgent,
Whereas the military is itself the greatest consumer of petroleum we have[xiv],
Whereas economists at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst have documented that military spending is an economic drain rather than a jobs program[xv],
Be it therefore resolved that the City Council of Charlottesville, Virginia, urges the United States Congress to move our tax dollars in exactly the opposite direction proposed by the President, from militarism to human and environmental needs.
[i] “Signer Declares City a ‘Capital of Resistance’ Against Trump, Daily Progress, January 31, 2017, http://www.dailyprogress.com/news/politics/signer-declares-city-a-capital-of-resistance-against-trump/article_12108161-fccd-53bb-89e4-b7d5dc8494e0.html
[ii] “Trump to Seek $54 Billion Increase in Military Spending,” The New York Times, February 27, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/27/us/politics/trump-budget-military.html?_r=0
[iii] This does not include another 6% for the discretionary portion of veterans’ care. For a breakdown of discretionary spending in the 2015 budget from the National Priorities Project, see https://www.nationalpriorities.org/campaigns/military-spending-united-states
[iv] “43 Million People Kicked Out of Their Homes,” World Beyond War, http://worldbeyondwar.org/43-million-people-kicked-homes / “Europe’s Refugee Crisis Was Made in America,” The Nation, https://www.thenation.com/article/europes-refugee-crisis-was-made-in-america
[v] On February 27, 2017, Trump said, “Almost 17 years of fighting in the Middle East . . . $6 trillion we’ve spent in the Middle East . . . and we’re nowhere, actually if you think about it we’re less than nowhere, the Middle East is far worse than it was 16, 17 years ago, there’s not even a contest . . . we have a hornet’s nest . . . .” http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2017/02/27/trump_we_spent_6_trillion_in_middle_east_and_we_are_less_than_nowhere_far_worse_than_16_years_ago.html
[vi] “Free College: We Can Afford It,” The Washington Post, May 1, 2012, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/free-college-we-can-afford-it/2012/05/01/gIQAeFeltT_story.html?utm_term=.9cc6fea3d693
[vii] “The World Only Needs 30 Billion Dollars a Year to Eradicate the Scourge of Hunger,” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2008/1000853/index.html
[viii] “Clean Energy Transition Is A $25 Trillion Free Lunch,” Clean Technica, https://cleantechnica.com/2015/11/03/clean-energy-transition-is-a-25-trillion-free-lunch / See also: http://www.solutionaryrail.org
[ix] “Clean Water for a Healthy World,” UN Environment Program, http://www.unwater.org/wwd10/downloads/WWD2010_LOWRES_BROCHURE_EN.pdf
[x] “Cost of High Speed Rail in China One Third Lower than in Other Countries,” The World Bank, http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2014/07/10/cost-of-high-speed-rail-in-china-one-third-lower-than-in-other-countries
[xi] Non-military U.S. foreign aid is approximately $25 billion, meaning that President Trump would need to cut it by over 200% to find the $54 billion he proposes to add to military spending
[xii] Letter to Congressional leaders, February 27, 2017, http://www.usglc.org/downloads/2017/02/FY18_International_Affairs_Budget_House_Senate.pdf
[xiii] See http://www.wingia.com/en/services/about_the_end_of_year_survey/global_results/7/33
[xiv] “Fight Climate Change, Not Wars,” Naomi Klein, http://www.naomiklein.org/articles/2009/12/fight-climate-change-not-wars
[xv] “The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities: 2011 Update,” Political Economy Research Institute, https://www.peri.umass.edu/publication/item/449-the-u-s-employment-effects-of-military-and-domestic-spending-priorities-2011-update